45th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Land Use and Water Management in a Sustainable Network Society", 23-27 August 2005, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Tourism is one of the most important sectors in the world economy, and it is now considered as an efficient tool for promoting economic growth. In this respect, the experience of the Spanish economy is well known, and might be used to illustrate the benefits of the development of the tourism sector in lagging economies. Actually, there is wide consensus in the idea of its role in enhancing the Spanish industrialisation process. The foreign currency receipts from tourism contributed to finance the expansion of manufacturing by financing imports of capital goods. Moreover, the expansion of tourism in the last three decades has been unstoppable and beneficial for the economy in different aspects. The main purpose of this paper is to assess the real role of the tourism sector in the Spanish economy during the last three decades, paying especial attention to its contribution to the industrialisation of some of the less developed regions. Policy issues that are derived from the results for the Spanish experience should be useful for other developing countries in similar situations, and reveal how the tourist activity in those economies can benefit the overall economy, helping growth in other sectors.